Beijing: At least 36 people were killed including seven from a single family when a landslide smashed into a remote village in southwestern China on Friday, state-run media said.
Around a dozen more were also buried when the landslip engulfed 16 homes in the village of Gaopo, said Yunnan Web, run by the Yunnan provincial government, adding that emergency teams rescued two injured people from the debris.
Photos posted on the website showed rescuers in orange uniforms digging in wide swathes of clumpy mud against a backdrop of snow-covered, terraced hills.
A video posted on a Chinese social networking site appeared to show a group of villagers digging through thick mud and debris to uncover a body, which was carried away on a stretcher.
Snow was visible in images of the rescue, in an area which has experienced unusually low temperatures in recent weeks, with China suffering what authorities have called its coldest winter in 28 years.
Top-ranking members of the ruling Communist Party had been made aware of the landslide, Yunnan Web said.
The province, which borders Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, is a relatively impoverished area of China, where rural houses are often cheaply constructed.
Gaopo is in Zhenxiong county, in the northeast of Yunnan, a temperate province known for its tobacco industry and as being the home of Pu’er tea.
But its mountainous areas are prone to landslides and it is also vulnerable to earthquakes. Two in September — one of magnitude 5.7 — left 81 people dead and hundreds injured.
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made an overnight trip to the quake zone at the time to comfort survivors, many of whom had taken refuge in tents erected on a public square.
A county neighbouring Zhenxiong was hit by a landslide in October that killed 18 children, after one which, according to the United States Geological Survey, killed 216 people in 1991.
An earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province in 2008 claimed around 70,000 lives — the worst natural disaster to hit China in three decades, with shoddy buildings blamed for the high toll. AFP